Life is full of paradoxes. Most of the available wisdom that can help us shape a life that we'd love does not become available to us until we are older, we often kill ourselves to acquire stuff thinking it will bring happiness only to find that the stuff brings more stress, we live for the weekend only to find that some of the richest experiences can be found now -- even if now happens to be Monday or Wednesday.
Life as an artist is no different. Most scenes I am drawn to paint are free of any figures and full of only natural scenery. Yet most art I enjoy viewing includes figures within such a scene. Witnessing animals and people communing with nature often brings drama and wonder that a scene purely made of trees, water, and other natural formations cannot produce. There are exceptions to this but there is something about seeing a well crafted painting of a small boat navigate large waves, or large animal dwarfed by mountains and the pasture they may be placed in. These an many other options do create drama and interest that can make a work of art much more appealing yet I have more fun painting natural landscape scenes with no figures.
Landscapes more fun to paint because it is much easier to adjust the elements. Nature is much more forgiving in this regard. I imagine it has to do with how the human mind catalogs and recalls images. So when the proportions on a human figure are off the slightest bit in a painting it creates negative attention to the work. Meanwhile when a mountain scene includes a range that has been enlarged or an exaggerated peak, to improve the composition of a painting it can still look great.
This painting of a man on a tractor was done for some great friends of ours. I know the subject and really cared for the outcome of the painting. I did feel a little bit of anxiety at various times throughout the creation of the painting yet somehow was able to focus on simply having fun with the process of creating it. I'm happy with the outcome and hope the eventual owners of the painting are too once it dries and is ready for delivery...
Despite all this it is still important to take on figure painting in order to stay sharp and improve as a painter. This is why I am happy to create paintings with figures included in them even though they tend to come together with more struggle and less ease. Often they are the most rewarding to me as well. Yet another paradox... No matter our vocation, location, ability or position in life, it is best to remember that struggle is to be expected and honored.